Gospel attitudes about wealth – simplicity

This is the second in a short series of blogs about attitudes that need to be nurtured by followers of Jesus in order to help us live the Gospel with our wealth, possesions and power.  The attitude of simplicity flows from the deep realization that most of us are blessed so far beyond what we can even imagine, yet, it is so easy to be sucked into the economic system and values of the world around us.  Watch and hour of TV with a pad and paper and make a note of how many commercials appeal to the idea that if you only had their product, things in life would work and be so much better.  This type of advertising starts with three year old kids who are presented with the newest, brightest, and goofiest toys.  Kids are taught that they will be happy if they have the latest webkins, the newest i-pod, or the coolest video game.  Happiness is promised with the accumulation of things, but that accumulation never satisfies.  In culture, the response is to be ever buying, every increasing our stuff, and ever growing in the accumulation of things.  Simplicity is developing an attitude that runs counter to the values of society, by striving to simplify life and give things away, rather than accumulating more.  Simplicity is seeking to live the incarnation of Jesus, the fact that He left the riches of heaven and became nothing, being born in the simplist of settings.

Practicing simplicity means that as a follower of Jesus, we are seeking ways to pair back our standard of living so that we can give more away to the needs of others.  It means that we are striving to find ways to reduce the amount of income spent on self and increase the amount spent on issues related to the Kingdom.  It means that we look at the things we already have, and consider that some of those things could be donated to help the poor.

You see, the easy thing to do is to condemn wealth as something that is evil.  The Bible does not condemn wealth, but it does significantly acknowledge that wealth and posessions tend to create incredible barriers to the experience of the Gospel and grace.   Practicing simplicity helps reorient the life of a follower of Jesus away from the rat race and the pursuit of more stuff.  So, how far should this go?  I believe that the answer to this is something that can only be answered between a person and God.  If we create a rule here, then simplicity becomes legalistic, and then we compare ourselves to others who are doing the same thing, and motives will be twisted.  We find this in the Bibli1 cal story of Annanias and Sapphira (Acts 5).  They were part of the early church in Jerusalem, and watched others practicing the attitude of simplicity.  One man, named Barnabus, downsized his belongings by selling a field and he brought the proceeds to the apostles to care for the poor.  Of course, Barnabus was recognized for his response, and Annanias and Sapphira noticed.  So they too sold a piece of property, and brought money to the apostles.  But they only brought a small percentage of the sale price, but they claimed it was the entire price of their property.  The issue here was not that their donation was not enough.  Rather, their step toward simplicity and generosity was done to gain the acclaim of people, and to get there, they lied to God.  You can read the story to see the outcome.  The goal here is to seek Christ and allow him to transform our lives.  Nurturing the attiude of simplicity is a great step in this direction.

So, where to start?  For our family, we have learned that every time a clothing donation organization, like Womens Another Chance, or the Children’s Home Society calls, we put together a couple bags of clothes, toys, and other items that we tend not to use as much.  That is one idea.  Maybe you have others that you could reply with to this blog.  The challenge is for you and your family to start nurturing ways to develop the Gospel attitude of simplicity.

Is this attitude Biblical.  Here are some Scriptures that challenge in that direction.

  • Psalm 37:16
  • Proverbs 15:16-17
  • Proverbs 30:7-9
  • Matthew 6:19-33
  • Matthew 7:12
  • 1 Timothy 6:9-11
  • Amos 6:4-7
  • Luke 12:15-21
  • Matthew 6:11
  • Psalm 119:130
  • Psalm 116:6

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